British Columbia says it will end the provincial wildfire state of emergency starting midnight Thursday.
Firefighting efforts and cooler temperatures have helped many evacuated British Columbians return to their homes in recent days, according to BC Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Preparedness Bowinn Ma.
“While the provincial state of emergency is no longer necessary, the wildfire season is not over,” Ma said in a news release shortly before 4 p.m. PT Thursday afternoon.
The province imposed a state of emergency on August 18 when thousands of residents were forced from their homes due to wildfires.
At the peak of the wildfire threat last month, more than 35,000 people were evacuated from their homes and almost the same number were under evacuation alerts, according to the province.
As of Thursday, there were approximately 370 properties under evacuation order and 18,000 on alert, with the majority of evacuated properties being in West Kelowna.
The Central Okanagan Regional District says 350 properties still have evacuation orders and 5,000 are on alert, as the McDougall Creek wildfire continues to burn out of control nearly a month after it was reported.
About half of the 400 structures or homes that were destroyed in the British Columbia wildfires this summer were lost in the Kelowna area.
There are still almost 400 active fires in the province, in what has been a record season in terms of burned area, and around 160 of those fires remain out of control.